J.P. Morgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon took a swipe at President Donald Trump, claiming that he could defeat the president in a head-to-head election.
"I think I could beat Trump," Dimon said Wednesday during an event held at his bank's Park Avenue headquarters in New York. "Because I'm as tough as he is, I'm smarter than he is. I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants, it wouldn't work with me. I'd fight right back."
Shortly after, Dimon addressed the uproar caused by his comments: "I should not have said it. I'm not running for president," the CEO said about an hour after the original exchange. The off-the-cuff outburst "proves I wouldn't make a good politician," Dimon said. "I get frustrated because I want all sides to come together to help solve big problems."
Dimon, 62, has been outspoken about what the U.S. needs to do to improve economic growth for a broader set of participants. He's also pushed for common-sense reform on topics ranging from immigration policy to infrastructure spending. So he's often asked whether he would run for president. In the past, he has said that while he would like running the country, he could never win an election.
But the victory of Donald Trump in 2016 -- another billionaire New York businessman -- raised the possibility that Dimon might change his mind.
Still, while the question is likely to remain, Dimon maintained that he probably couldn't win. In Wednesday's original comments, he indicated that its unlikely a rich banker could defeat a liberal candidate.
"I can't beat the liberal side of the Democratic Party," Dimon said, adding that the Democrats needed to "get their act together" by not attacking businesses.
Dimon, who was speaking at an event to tout a new philanthropic effort, J.P. Morgan's $500 million program to boost economic growth in select cities around the world, is known for speaking bluntly.
Since rising to prominence by capably steering his bank during the financial crisis, Dimon has criticized regulators for overlapping efforts, called investors who follow proxy adviser services lazy and said that bitcoin investors were stupid. But more than anything else that seems to get Dimon's goat is dysfunction in Washington, D.C.
Last year, Dimon said it was "almost an embarrassment to be an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid s--- we have to deal with in this country."
Dimon, a lifelong Democrat who was reportedly considered for Treasury secretary under the nascent Trump administration, has said he's tried to influence the president as a former member of a now-disbanded advisory group of business leaders. Dimon is also chairman of the Washington-based Business Roundtable.
Before he was done, Dimon took another swipe at Trump.
"And by the way this wealthy New Yorker actually earned his money," Dimon added. "It wasn't a gift from Daddy."
Here are Dimon's full comments:
Question: Why not throw your hat in the ring, Jamie? [laughter]
Dimon: I mean, I've said this before Trump was elected. You're not going to get a wealthy New Yorker elected president. Boy I was dead wrong. And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker [pointing to himself] actually earned his money. It wasn't a gift from Daddy. And I grew up in a poorer part of Queens than he did, but I am a banker. I am part of the elite. He…I don't think the American public looks at Trump as part of the elite. They look at him as the upstart who punched the elite in the nose every day. And so I think…I think I could beat Trump. I can't beat the liberal side of the Democratic party.
Question: You think you can beat Trump?
Dimon: Yeah. I do, yeah. [laughter] Because I'm as tough as he is, I'm smarter than he is. I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants, it wouldn't work with me. I'd fight right back. But you have these….the Democratic party….they've got to get their act together in terms of understanding how society actually works. Because if they just keep on pounding away at business…I watch these ads on TV with all these people ...they're all running and they're all going to [wags finger] …business where their place is. Well, OK, right that's going to really work. That's going to really succeed……Anyway my wife wouldn't let me, either. She told me she'd love to be first lady. She did not say that, but I do think it'd be a really interesting White House if she were first lady. It would be a little bit…..you compare yourself, remember that show the Nanny with Fran Drescher? [laughter] She says that, not me.
— With reporting by CNBC's Dawn Giel and Liz Moyer.